December 27, 2018
Sudip Bandyopadhyay speaks on The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018
Madam, I rise to speak on The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018. Madam, when in August, 2017, the Supreme Court gave their judgment by pronouncing triple talaq as null and void, we took it as granted that this issue will not reflect upon further. It was discussed in the Parliament, on the floor of the House. And it has come back again, with some amendments also.
At the very beginning, we said that if this Bill could have been sent once to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee, situation could have been different. What I guess is that, one part of the Bill enjoys support from all the political parties as far as the rights of women are concerned, which you also initiated from the chair at the beginning of the discussion.
So Madam, as we are all the farm believers of the principles of secularism, communal harmony and the unity of the country, when any Bill connected with the interest and the protection of a major section of this country is brought, we cannot remain mum. All political parties have their own stand, and they should clarify their views and versions accordingly.
We have always been in favour of the protection of the women – married or unmarried. Today here in parliament the Bill is moved to protect the right of the married Muslim women and to prohibit divorce by pronouncing talaq by their husbands.
Madam, it is no doubt that instant talaq is completely viewed as sinful and improper by a large section of the Muslim community itself. A huge section of the Muslim community consider it as a sinful step which is not acceptable at all. I think that this thought is in a positive direction so that there cannot be a dispute about the need to protect married Muslim women against such type of practice of divorce. I think that this part of the Bill is beyond debate. Every person, every political party had extended their support.
Divorce by triple talaq, also according to us, is threatening the social security and well-being of a society as a whole. Madam, we should not forget to protect the interests of the woman to highlight the womanhood as a whole in the country. We are also trying to find out a date when our Parliament will pass 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lower House and also in the State Legislative Assemblies. Madam, I should draw the attention of the House to the fact that our party, All India Trinamool Congress has 34 MPs in Lok Sabha out of which 12 MPs are female; that is 35 per cent – which is more than 33 per cent. This is the view of Mamata Banerjee, our leader of the party. She is always there to protect the interests of women, is working hard to uphold the interests of women in this country.
Madam, so we are here to protect the interests of married Muslim women who are really facing difficulties due to the influence of triple talaq. Regarding this part, we have nothing to say. On the other hand, we strongly oppose the imprisonment of three years for the husbands, with some reasons.
One, this is excessive, this is arbitrary and irrational according to us. We thoroughly oppose this criminalisation provision. Madam, why we are saying so? I want to clarify it to Ravi Shankar Prasad Ji. Suppose, those husbands who are going to jail, what will happen to the women regarding their maintenance? Because, the question of giving maintenance by the husband will be moot if the person is in jail. He will find no scope and opportunity to provide her financial support. There can be little question of maintenance as the person would not be in a position to earn money.
The only women who can be truly benefited under this law are those whose husbands have significant estates and income that would permit the payment of maintenance while the husband is not working. So, this is a problem. If this provision of imprisonment persists, then the said Bill will lead to injustice and make a woman’s life deteriorated further. It will be injustice and sufferings of the divorced women will increase. Justice will be denied to them.
Madam, so we propose to send this Bill to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee. We think that this is not a battlefield, so far this Bill is concerned. It has a humanitarian side. So, we hope that the Government will rise to the occasion.
Our proposals are,
1. We are firmly standing behind the rights of Muslim women,
2. We are totally against the provision of criminalisation, and
3. Considering all the sides, I think that Hon Minister will adopt such a Bill which will satisfy each one of us.